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Business briefs

17 Sep 2004

Including news from Canon, Toshiba, Kodak, Carl Zeiss and more.

General company news:

•  Japanese firms Canon and Toshiba are establishing a joint venture to develop and produce next-generation, flat-screen surface-conduction electron-emitter display (SED) panels. The company will be called "SED Inc" and will employ around 300 people. In an SED, electrons collide with a phosphor-coated screen and emit light. In addition to high brightness and high definition, benefits of SEDs are said to be video-response performance, high contrast, high gradation levels and low-power consumption.

•  Kodak and IBM are teaming up to develop and make image sensors for consumer products such as digital still cameras and camera phones. The multi-year deal brings together Kodak's broad-based know-how of image sensor technology with IBM's complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) processing expertise.

•  Kodak has also announced that it will close its facility in Coburg, Australia, in November with the loss of around 600 jobs. The facility produced color photographic paper. Kodak says the closure is in response to shifting consumer preference for digital products and services.

•  German firms Carl Zeiss and Dialog Semiconductor are teaming up to produce high-quality camera cell phones. Carl Zeiss will supply the lens while Dialog will produce the camera module and electronics. "The various possibilities arising from combining the mobile telephone and the camera promise an exciting market," said Winfried Scherle of Carl Zeiss. "This is very attractive for Carl Zeiss."

•  Bookham Technology, the maker of optical components and subsystems, has completed its change of corporate domicile from the UK to the US. Its company stock is now trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "BKHM".

•  Japan, which leads the field of commercial photovoltaics, could soon lose its number one spot to Germany, according to a report from ABI Research called Global Photovoltaic Markets. "A number of Japanese government initiatives that have nurtured the industry for almost a decade are about to expire," explains ABI analyst Josh Laurito. He adds that Germany subsidizes the sale of solar power back into the national grid and, by law, utility companies have to buy this power. "The market in Germany has exploded," says Laurito. "There is a huge shortage of photovoltaic cells and modules."

•  Molecular Imprints, a maker of step and flash imprint lithography systems, has opened a European office in Aalen, Germany.


•  Aculight of the US has won two contracts totalling $850 000 under the small business innovation research (SBIR) program. One contract is worth $750 000 and will see the firm develop a short-pulse fiber laser for use in active imaging and remote sensing systems. The second $100 000 award is for the development of a compact UV laser source for Raman spectroscopy.

•  MetaStable Instruments, US, has won a $750 000 SBIR Phase 2 grant to develop a way to measure light absorption by thin-film coatings. "Lower absorption coatings will benefit laser weapons, high-power industrial lasers and high-precision optical instruments such as interferometers used to detect gravitational waves," says MetaStable.

Iridian Spectral TechnologiesHyperion OpticsBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationOptikos Corporation CeNing Optics Co LtdUniverse Kogaku America Inc.SPECTROGON AB
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